Rotary Funds Trail Work at Milford Experimental Forest
The Milford/Matamoras Chapter of Rotary International has committed $3,000 toward developing educational materials for a new hiking trail currently under development in the Milford Experimental Forest (MEF), Schocopee Road, Milford, PA, that is expected to open for education programs later this year.
The funds will be used to augment an equal grant from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and will expand the capacity to provide access and educational opportunities on this unique and historic piece of land.
“The US Forest Service, the Pinchot family and our many partners and collaborators are excited to once again be offering educational programs on a piece of land that, almost a century ago, was used by students to learn and apply the “new” science of forestry in America, and we are pleased to have Rotary International contributing to those efforts” said Bill Dauer, Acting Director of Grey Towers National Historic Site, Milford, PA.
The Milford Experimental Forest (MEF), a 1,400 acre parcel surrounding Grey Towers National Historic Site, and owned by the Pinchot family, is perhaps best known for the work of Gifford Pinchot, America’s first-born Forester, eminent conservationist and two-term Governor of Pennsylvania. Gifford Pinchot founded and was named first chief of the US Forest Service and his family endowed the Yale School of Forestry, to train students to practice forestry in America. The students learned their practical field work in the forests of MEF and Grey Towers from 1901-1926.
The Milford Experimental Forest, currently managed by descendants of Gifford Pinchot, is a Forest Legacy site, which acknowledges its historic significance and protected from development in perpetuity. As part of the Forest Legacy program, the land is also to be used for trails, public recreation and research.
Volunteers with the Grey Towers Heritage Association and others have successfully developed a connecting 2.6 mile loop trail in the MEF and are forming an education and interpretive plan that proposes a self-guided brochure, a kiosk, maps and directional trail signs and interpretive wayside exhibits. All the materials are geared toward educating visitors about the different demonstration areas located within the MEF.
Funding also will used to enable visitors to gain web access to information about the MEF,
including downloadable maps, directions, hours and days of availability, safety instructions and contact information, at a new comprehensive web site for the MEF within the Grey Towers Heritage Association website.
Working closely with landowners Peter Pinchot and his daughter Leila Pinchot, the GTHA and the USFS have determined that the main educational themes will be Management; Ecological services/functions, and History. Each subject will include these three themes in the development of the description. QR codes will be added to the materials for visitors to learn more by using their digital devices.
The plans for public use and education are part of a multiple-use plan that also includes hunting by the Schocopee Hunt Club (a private club) and research to restore a sustainable balance between the deer herd and the local ecosystems as well as restoring species that are increasingly rare in the landscape, such as American chestnut.
The 2.6 mile trail brings visitors through a demonstration area for American chestnut re-introduction; a shelter wood harvest; a vernal pool; stream (Pinchot Brook) crossing; beaver meadow; a large deer exclosure and other forest habitats. The new trail has already been utilized by hiking clubs high-school environmental clubs and training for regional school teachers. The trail is expected to open for education programs later this year.
In addition to the US Forest Service and Grey Towers Heritage Association and its volunteers, the MEF trail project has been supported by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, The Wallenpaupack Environmental Club, and the Syracuse University Forestry Club.
For more information contact the Grey Towers Heritage Association at 570.296.9625 or by email at email@example.com.